Friday, March 27, 2009

Digitally Paint Comics

Written by Mark Rivera and filed into the Uncategorized category.

In this tutorial we will be using real life textures to assist in color rendering the Lady Blackhawk drawn by DC Comics artist Ed Benes. As you are digitally painting you may want to add details to give certain parts accentuated realism. I have found this brown leather texture sample that will be applied on to the color. We don’t necessarily need a black piece, just as long as we like the texture of the material. We can turn this black by first going to Image>Adjustments>Desaturate. This takes out the color while keeping the light and dark values of the leather.

Even real life black and white tends to have shades of color, so to add realism we will add a light shade of blue to the now dark gray leather by going to Image>Color Balance and adding +10 to blue. Now we have a nice texture swatch of shiny black leather.

If you would like your line art to remain on top while remaining transparent to the color render beneath, select the layer with it and press Ctrl + A to select the entire layer. Press Ctrl + C to copy it and then Ctrl + V to paste it into place. Drag this layer to the top of the layers panel. In the line art layer pull down the drop-down menu and go from Normal to Multiply. This will make the line layer transparent while leaving the black lines while revealing the colors beneath.

In the Flats layer, block out an area to fill with a base color. With this area selected, create another layer on top of your line art. I have chosen a dark gray/blue with the hexadecimal value #3E3E3F.

Open your leather swatch and select the Clone Stamp Tool. Set the Opacity to 40% and the Flow to 75%. Hold in the Alt key and click in the center of the swatch. This will hold the memory of the texture that will be stamped onto our art.

Go back into the art with the flat color and use the Magic Wand Tool to select the paintable area. On a new layer called Textures, paint into the area with the Clone Stamp Tool. To get smaller detailed areas, you can decrease the sample texture by 50% and use a smaller brush to vary the sizes of the texture creases on the jacket. Experiment with your strokes and brush sizes to meet your desired effect.

Now we will go in depth about how to paint with selections to add dramatic shadows and highlights. Let’s go ahead and manage our layers. I like to make a Flats layer along with a Shading, Textures, Shadows, Highlights, and a top Line Art layer.

Just like we did with the jacket, lets block out the rest of the shapes in the Flats layer. There are a couple advantages to having a separate flats layer. After blocking out your flats you already have a base tone to add any details with. However simple or detailed as you wish to go, you will always have your base color there. The flats layer also serves as a nice selection device as you paint in the other layers. Magic Wand the blocked out color and you now have a selection that allows you to color inside the lines like when you were a good little boy or girl.

As you add some dark and light tones in the shading layer with the section blocked out, you will begin to reveal the shapes in a more 3-Dimensional manner. Magic wand each section to brush. Just be sure to select the appropriate layer before painting so you don’t end up painting on your flats. I like to use a darker color and brush the edges and work my way in depending on the light sources you imagine.

Now with the Lasso Tool we will be creating cuts to color in selections. These cuts, or shapes, create a dynamic effect that you often see in printed digitally colored comics today. After drawing a cut, hold down the Shift key to create another cut without losing the first one you’ve drawn. Here I’ve cut out the areas of the jacket that will fill in the darker shadows in the leather folds and areas of Blackhawk’s face and skirt.

You can do the same with highlights as well.

With some experimentation, depending on how fast or detailed you want to go, you can digitally render line art with a style of your own.


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